Last year, Lindy's Sports didn't think much of Rutgers' chances in the Big Ten, predicting a 7th place finish:
"Rutgers is equipped to play with a number of programs in the Big Ten, but playing the upper echelon programs is another matter."
And they were pretty much right.
This year, though, after an 8-5 season, Lindy's has a better opinion of the Knights, looking for the Scarlet to finish in 5th place in the B1G East ahead of Indiana and....wait for it....Maryland!!!
Recruiting: Lindy's has the Knights pegged at #11 in the Big Ten, ahead of Iowa, Minnesota, and Purdue. They were ranked #56 nationally. Marques Ford is their "Headliner". Their "Sleeper" is receiver Jawuan Harris, who was not drafted by MLB and will not bypass the gridiron for the diamond. Although he likely will walk on for baseball.
Highlights: Among wide receivers, their #15 WR is Leonte Carroo This is the only Rutgers player on any Top-fill-in-the number list by position. Lindy's has the Rutgers receivers as the third best receiving corps in the conference. But it also lists RU's QB set up as #14, undoubtedly because of the lack of knowledge/experience at the position, not to mention the uncertainty of who will start. But that's a bad combination of numbers to start the season. They do, though, like Carroo....a lot:
He's as good, as dynamic and as NFL-ready as anyone in the conference. Carroo would be an All-American at Ohio State, or in any program with a much bigger profile than the Scarlet Knights enjoy.
With the exception of receivers, LBs (#5) and Special Teams (#7), the Knights are looked on as low-rated in most position rankings. And the secondary at #13 goes right along with our Andy Egan's assessment of the DBs.
Lindy's Brian Dohn is concerned about the QB experience situation. "Young quarterbacks need to play and learn from mistakes, and big mistakes can be too tough for Rutgers to overcome. Also, new offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels will be calling the plays for the first time, and he lacks experience."
Good news / Bad news:
The Good: Scarlet Knights coming off an eight-win season that issued a statement to the doubting masses.
The Bad: Those huge home games against Ohio State and Michigan State? They're probably unwinnable.
In terms of scheduling, Lindy's has pity for the Knights. "They get both Michigan State and Ohio State at home - nice, sort of - but drawing Wisconsin and Nebraska in crossover games seems almost unfair." BTN's Tom Dienhart agrees, saying the Knights have - again - the toughest conference schedule in the B1G.
Overview: "A quick start is possible as Rutgers plays four of its first five at home, but there is a potential killer stretch in which the Scarlet Knights host Ohio State, play at Wisconsin, at Michigan and host Nebraska on four straight Saturdays.
If the Scarlet Knights can survive the quartet of games, finishing against Army and Maryland could give them a much-needed push to a bowl game. But conspiring aainst success is that Rutgers' lone bye week comes Oct. 3. It means playing eight straight Saturdays to finish the season."
All Big Ten
First team: WR Leonte Carroo, AP Janarion Grant
Third team: LB Steve Longa
Lindy's Around the Big Ten
All American 1st Team Defense: Joey Bosa (OSU), Shilique Calhoun (MSU), Adolphus Washington (OSU)
All American 1st Team Offense: Ezekial Elliott (OSU), Jack Allen (MSU), Taylor Decker (OSU)
Among their top 25 QBs nationally, Athlon has Cardale Jones (#2), J.T. Barrett (#6), and Braxton Miller (#11) on the list. That's just ridiculous on so many levels. For what it's worth, BTN's Tom Dienhart believes Miller will end up starting for the Buckeyes.
Maryland's Brad Craddock, the reigning Groza Award winner, was listed as the #2 kicker nationally. For the record, he was 1 for 2 against Rutgers last November.
Among unit rankings, Ohio State is #1 for backfield, O Line, D line, linebackers. They're only #4 for receivers (thank God, considering the state of their QBs) and # 3 for DBs.
Coaching issues: Lindy's believes that both Illinois' Tim Beckman and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz are on the hot seat. Beckman is 4-20 in conference play and has the recent scandals rocking the Illini boat. The magazine also has Indiana's Kevin Wilson and Purdue's Darrell Hazel in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
From Lindy's Best and Worst list: worst record against the spread: UConn (2-10)
On the Banks began this season's look at the predictions with our look at Athlon's preseason outlook.